As much as you hope crisis doesn’t happen to your business, it’s something that can happen, and you should be prepared. You never know how or why something occurs and simply having a crisis management plan that you can immediately set into motion will go a long way to easing concerns if there is ever anything that arises. Some businesses get caught up in an issue that suddenly grabs the collective attention on social media. Others end up with internal power plays and struggles, even a rumor, that might not make the news cycle or social networking feeds, but becomes known around town can have a harmful impact on a business.
So, how should a business owner that is leading a company through a crisis move forward?
- Write and Adhere to Policies: Operate with the highest ethical standards and manage your business by following the law, regulations and adhering to excellent business and customer service practices. The reality is that if you operate with integrity and with attention to excellence, the chances that your business gets caught in a crisis diminishes significantly. Therefore, the best way to move through a crisis is actually to prevent a disaster from happening in the first place. Ensuring and observing written financial management, conflict of interest, data protection, social media, management, personnel, and operational policies also help to provide your company with ways to steer clear of potential crisis.
- Be Prepared to Resign if Warranted: In today’s world, the government, media, and the general public expect leaders from all different sectors to assume their respective roles with thoughtfulness, transparency, organization, and clarity. Depending on the crisis, this may mean that executives and staff will be asked to resign or have to be fired if the company ends up in a significant situation. If you’re your company gets enmeshed in a crisis, and there is validity to the claims being made, individuals need to be prepared to assume this consequence depending on their role in the crisis; in other words, they may be expected to relinquish the reigns of leadership.
- Be Transparent: It is crucially important to be transparent. Business owners and leaders need to lead and stay ahead of a crisis, which is part of their responsibilities. It also means they must be open concerning what may be discovered about the crisis. The public has seen it time and time again, when a crisis hits, the cover-up is often worse than the act itself. The best way to ensure this does not happen, which only invites more difficulties, is to be pro-active and transparent. The critical approach should be to be transparent and communicate clearly, early and often with your constituents, which may mean your team or even customers and the public.
- Be Immediate: In today’s world, a crisis can strike, and it can grow into a raging fire within hours. Social media and the 24-hour news cycle mean that the public is always on and keeping up to date with developments. Even rumors can destabilize a company in short order. Therefore, when a business is in the midst of a crisis, it needs to actively and continually be monitoring additional risk beyond the original situation, because stories can have multiple threads. Also, it is necessary for a company to work on managing the crisis legally if need be, and in the court of public opinion, literally, moment by moment. One tweet or post on social media can go around the world in a heartbeat, and immediacy––especially with the support of talented crisis management professionals––is essential if you have a situation that is akin to a slow-release crisis that is quickly snowballing.
Companies should continually work to ensure that they maintain the highest business standards in all aspects of the company from the outset, including if there is an unexpected crisis. By providing reliable, robust and effective leadership, companies can develop and potentially even thrive when the current of the waters becomes unexpectedly strong.
Author of “Not Your Father’s Charity: Grip & Rip Leadership for Social Impact” (Free Digital Download)
© 2018 Wayne Elsey and Not Your Father’s Charity. All Rights Reserved.